Another mass protest against Ahok planned for Friday, Islamist group leader predicts 5 million turnout

Indonesian protesters chant in front of a poster of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known by his nickname Ahok, as they march down the capital city’s main street after a demonstration at Jakarta’s National Monument Park on December 2, 2016. More than 100,000 Indonesian Muslims protested on December 2 against Jakarta’s Christian governor, the second major demonstration in a matter of weeks as conservative groups push for his arrest on accusations of insulting Islam.
GOH CHAI HIN / AFP
Indonesian protesters chant in front of a poster of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known by his nickname Ahok, as they march down the capital city’s main street after a demonstration at Jakarta’s National Monument Park on December 2, 2016. More than 100,000 Indonesian Muslims protested on December 2 against Jakarta’s Christian governor, the second major demonstration in a matter of weeks as conservative groups push for his arrest on accusations of insulting Islam. GOH CHAI HIN / AFP

Despite incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama having unofficially lost in the recent election, it appears that hardline Islamic groups are not yet content until Ahok is jailed for his alleged blasphemy against Islam.

The National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council’s Fatwa (GNPF-MUI), an umbrella organization that consists of several notorious hardline groups like the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) who have been leading mass protests against Ahok in the past few months, plans to hold another mass protest in Jakarta on Friday in a bid to pressure the judiciary to jail Ahok for his alleged blasphemy.

Prosecutors in Ahok’s trial previously demanded a surprisingly lenient sentence for the governor – a two-year probation with the possibility of one year in jail should he commit a crime during the probation period.

Hardline Islamic groups are unhappy about the sentence demand and have held several relatively small protests as a result. But this Friday, GNPF-MUI says it’s going to hold the mother of all protests against Ahok involving millions of protesters.

“The [march] route is from Istiqlal Mosque to the Supreme Court. It’s predicted that 5 million people will attend,” said GNPF-MUI advocate Kapitra Ampera, as quoted by Detik today.

Kapitra added that the mass protest, which would take place after Friday prayers, would be “peaceful”.

Whether 5 million people will actually turn out for the protest remains to be seen. If not, the GNPF-MUI can always inflate their own numbers in their version of the turnout count, as they have previously when they said 7.5 million people protested against Ahok on December 2 (when most media reports had the number at around 300 thousand).

And, in regards to this planned protest potentially influencing the judges presiding over Ahok’s case – who, theoretically, should be free from external influence – Kapitra argued that the public’s right to protest is protected by the constitution.

The police said they have not received a formal request from GNPF-MUI to hold a mass protest in the capital on Friday.



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